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Iran says won't halt nuclear program
Updated: 2006-02-28 18:41


In a later meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Mottaki urged Japanese companies to take part in Iran's nuclear power plant projects.

"I have requested to the Japanese prime minister for participation of the Japanese companies in our 10 to 15 nuclear power plant establishment," Mottaki told reporters.

"Because ... we have to produce 20,000 megawatts energy for electricity."

A Foreign Ministry official later said that Mottaki had merely said foreign participation might be invited to construct the nuclear power plants and had not specifically mentioned Japan.

Monday's IAEA report was circulated to the watchdog's board members before they meet on March 6 to discuss it. The report will be forwarded to the U.N. Security Council, where the United States and European powers are likely to call for sanctions against Iran.

The stand-off has put Japan in a bind between its policy to stay in diplomatic sync with the United States, its main security ally, and its plans to develop an Iranian oil field that Tokyo sees as vital to its energy strategy.

Nikai said Japan did not want to see Iran, its third-largest oil supplier, isolated within the international community, and he urged Iran to give up its uranium-enrichment program, the Japanese official said.

Japan imports about 15 percent of its crude oil from Iran, or some 500,000 barrels a day, and has maintained good ties with the Islamic Republic, even at the expense of upsetting Washington.

Despite U.S. objections, Tokyo went ahead two years ago with a deal on a billion-dollar project to develop the Azadegan oil field in Iran, estimated to hold the world's second-biggest single oil reserves.

The Japanese government has a 36 percent stake in Japan's biggest oil developer, INPEX Corp., which plans to develop the southern part of Azadegan, estimated to hold 26 billion barrels of oil.

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